The American Bankers Association has endorsed Market Advantage, a product designed to help community banks sort out which customers make them money.

Market Advantage, sold by Harte-Hanks Data Technologies, Billerica, Mass., won the ABA's approval after beating out products from Deluxe Corp. of Shoreview, Minn., and Customer Insight Co. of Englewood, Colo.

The ABA hired Alex Sheshunoff Management Services in Austin, Tex., to review the three products independently. Diane Salyards, senior marketing consultant at Sheshunoff, recommended Market Advantage because of its "functionality and flexibility at a very affordable price."

Andrea Cernich, director of marketing at the Corporation for American Banking, an ABA subsidiary, said Market Advantage has a more sophisticated profitability module than its competitors' products, letting community banks rank customers better by the profit they produce. Large banks have been examining customer profitability for a number of years, and small banks are beginning to follow suit.

The software, also called Marketing Customer Information File, or MCIF, can also help banks determine which customers are likely to buy what products.

Market Advantage, similar to Harte-Hanks' MCIF system for large banks, has been on the market for a year. Harte-Hanks has sold it to about 50 community banks.

The software's price depends on a bank's asset size, from about $10,000 for a bank with less than $50 million of assets to about $40,000 for banks in the $300 million to $500 million asset range. No discounts are being offered to ABA members.

The ABA and its Corporation for American Banking chose to endorse Harte- Hanks' MCIF product after a yearlong review.

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